All Aboard The Nordland Train

For the last 10 years, I have written endless pieces of content for B2B PR campaigns across niche industries, but I have never quite faced the challenge I find myself in right now – to write about myself.

Yet here I am, sitting at my desk in a wet and windy Birmingham, trying to find the words to describe an almost indescribable trip to Norway I experienced in December 2023 as part of WPR’s incredible employee benefit: the Live Free Fund.

However, as I open up my Word document, Coldplay’s Christmas Lights has come on the radio, and the lyrics have inspired me to start typing. They sum up my Live Free Fund experience perfectly:

“Those Christmas lights. Light up the street. Down where the sea and city meet. May all your troubles soon be gone. Oh, Christmas lights keep shining on.”

For those who have ever been to Norway during December, you’ll know how magical the country is. Every building on every street captures the festivities perfectly, with golden lights shining and Christmas trees alight everywhere. It wasn’t the experience I signed up for, but boy was I in awe of the places I visited.

When I initially applied for the Live Free Fund, I wanted to experience the journey from Trondheim to Bodø on the Nordland train. It means a lot to me and my journey with grief. The Nordland Night Train by Erik Braa on the Calm app allowed me to drift asleep comfortably for the first time after my friend died suddenly in 2020. It felt apt, then, that I booked the train journey during the night time. When I started to drift off on the Saturday night, I did so having experienced the places Erik describes so eloquently in his sleep story. Despite being on a moving train, I slept remarkably well with a smile on my face.

The reality of my Norway experience is that the trip went far beyond my wildest expectations when I originally sent Jane, our managing director, my initial Live Free Fund application. Sadly, I met Zara only a handful of times, but I always sensed she was up for a good time. From learning more about her, I’ve come to realise just how inspirational she was – leaping into exciting experiences whenever the opportunity arose.

I took this mentality into my trip, experiencing a number of firsts. I successfully chased the northern lights without a tour guide, witnessed whales and sea eagles in the wild, tried cross-country skiing and experienced the polar night season, to name a few. I even faced my fear and rode a cable car up a mountain!

I’ve learnt a lot about myself, too. Not just on the trip, but on the journey I have embarked on over the last 12 months. Running 100 miles for charity in October and hosting a special ‘Learning About Each Other’ session on the subject of grief for my agency colleagues have been particular highlights. I plan on continuing my journey into 2024 and beyond.

To me, that’s what the Live Free Fund is all about: finding new experiences, pushing boundaries you didn’t feel were achievable, and enjoying the here and now. For that, I am forever grateful to WPR.

About WPR’s Live Free Fund

The Live Free Fund was established in 2021 in memory of much-loved colleague Zara Free.

Inspired by Zara’s passion for living life to the full, the Live Free Fund exists to make life-enriching experiences possible for members of the WPR team, creating opportunities for them to to broaden their horizons and grow as individuals.

Whether gaining a new skill or qualification, or making a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, the Live Free Fund encourages people to embrace things outside their comfort zones, keeping Zara’s spirit of curiosity and adventure alive at WPR.